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July 25, 2005

Only terrorists target innocent citizens?

What would you call a group of combatants that didn't belong to a single country, but instead was cobbled together from fighters from various countries? That dressed themselves in their enemies uniforms? That deliberated attacked civilians...non-combatant women and children? What would you call a country that deliberated sent hundreds of thousands of noncombatants to their untimely deaths in a series of horrific firestorms? If you guessed the Allies in WWII, you're right!

"Perhaps the next time round the way to do it will be to kill women, children and the civilian population." - Winston Churchill

Sixty two years ago to the day, the British RAF and the United States Army Air Corps firebombed the city of Hamburg back into the stoneage. In a joint operation called Operation Gomorrah:

On the night of July 27th, shortly before midnight, 739 aircraft attacked Hamburg. Owing to unusually warm weather, along with the deliberate planning of the raids (which trapped the city's firefighters in the bombed-out center of the city by following-up with incendiary bombing of the periphery), the bombings culminated in the spawning of the so-called "Feuersturm" (firestorm). Quite literally a tornado of fire, this phenomenon created a huge outdoor blast furnace, containing winds of up to 150 mph (240 km/h) and reaching temperatures of 1500 degrees Fahrenheit (800 degrees Celsius). It caused street asphalt to burst into flame, cooked people to death in air-raid shelters, sucked pedestrians off the sidewalks like leaves into a vacuum cleaner and incinerated some eight square miles of the city.

In the waning days of the War, Dresden was firebombed as well. From February of 1945, to as late as April 17th of 1945(Germany surrendered on May 7th & May 8th), the USAAF dropped 580 B-17s dropped thousands of tons of high-explosive bombs and incendiaries.

Out of 28,410 houses in the inner city of Dresden, 24,866 were destroyed. An area of 15 square kilometers was totally destroyed... Although the main railway station was destroyed completely, the railway was working again within a few days.

The precise number of dead is difficult to ascertain and is not known. Estimates are made difficult...but historians now view around 25,000-35,000 as the likely range with the latest (1994) research by the Dresden historian Friedrich Reichert pointing toward the lower part of this range."

The goal was total warfare on the population of the cities. They were deliberately annihilated.

"Overall, Anglo-American bombing of German cities claimed ca. 400,000 civilian lives, nine times the 43,000 British civilians killed in German raids."

The destruction of the city provoked unease in informed circles in Britain. According to Max Hastings, by February 1945, attacks upon German cities had become largely irrelevant to the outcome of the war and the name of Dresden possessed a resonance for cultured people all over Europe — "the home of so much charm and beauty, a refuge for Trollope’s heroines, a landmark of the Grand Tour." He argues that the bombing of Dresden was the first time Allied populations questioned the military actions used to defeat the Nazis

After VE day in May of 1945, the 8th Air Force was transferred to the Pacific. Over 60 Japanese cities were firebombed by the USAAF, including Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, and Kobe.

General LeMay, commander of XXI Bomber Command, instead switched to mass firebombing night attacks from altitudes of around 7,000 feet on the major conurbations of Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, and Kobe.

Curtis LeMay later said:

"I suppose if I had lost the war, I would have been tried as a war criminal."

So, I'm no fan of the terrorists, but our moral high ground feels a little shaky to me, in light of our past excursions. I mean, it isn't like we are above killing non-combatants, if we feel it is justifiable. So, I'm not saying the terrorists are right, but I think it's a little bit much to be falsely implying or stating that we don't target non-combatants. We killed hundreds of thousands of civilian men, women, and children in WWII, and we did it deliberately.

Ask yourself this question. Do you feel the least bit uneasy about the number of innocent children we firebombed to death during WWII? If the answer is "No", then don't ask yourself how the terrorists could possibly consider killing non-combatants. You already know the answer. ;)

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Posted by Peenie Wallie on July 25, 2005 at 06:43 PM


The difference was and is the descriptor deliberately.

In WWII there were no precision guilded munitions.
"Cities" were attacked for the industrial-infrastructure value to wage war.

One could also make the same bogus argument that the US is guilty of not destroying gas chambers located within concentration camps.

In hindsight it would have been nice to have done these things, but they were not. Instead military targets were selected in cold calculated fashion.

History is written by the victors but we should not engage in portraying our mothers and fathers who fought and died in the great war as somehow being complicit in crimes.

Nazi Germany represented a new level of evil and there were unfortunately mass casualties. I'm sorry that innocents were lost, but keep in mind that thousands of brave airmen were lost in the flying campaign to destroy Nazi Germany's ability to wage war. Also keep in mind they were using slave labor to produce V2 rockets up until the very end in Penumunde.

Those nations which were vanquished by The United States during that great war are now some of the most open free societies and also staunch allies to The United States.

Posted by: grego on July 30, 2005 at 05:00 PM

You also have to remember that the Geneva Conventions are based on reciprocity. You follow them, or the other guys do not have to follow them either.
Also remember that the Allies did not bomb German civilians until after England had suffered such an attack. (I will concede that it does appear that that attack was an accident as opposed to a deliberate attack on civilians, but after Germany's tepid response to the complaint, Churchill rather gleefully had large scale attacks planned to eradicate the workforce of the various German factories)
I don't think that anybody sane would attempt to claim that Japan made any attempt to comply with the G.C.s, and such compliance is the shield that protects your civilians.

Posted by: Jhn1 on July 30, 2005 at 09:07 PM

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